Hyderabad: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sunday arrested YSR Congress party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for illegally amassing wealth, a day before he was scheduled to appear before the CBI court here.
YSR party leader J. Prabhakar Rao told reporters outside Dilkusha Guest House, the CBI camp office, that the CBI had arrested Jagan, as the young leader is popularly known.
Jagan remained inside the guest house since his arrest at 7.20 p.m while his mother Y.S. Vijayamma, wife Bharathi and other family members sat on a protest outside demanding the CBI to give them the reason for the arrest.
Tension prevailed outside the guest house as the family members refused to leave and accused Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for getting him arrested to satisfy her ego.
Though the CBI did not issue any official statement about Jagan's arrest, it informed his leaders and family members that it has taken him into custody.
According to sources, Jagan has been arrested on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. The CBI believes he conspired with his father and then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to dole out favours to some companies in return for investments in his businesses.
The 40-year-old, one the richest MPs in the country with declared assets of Rs.356 crore last year, will be produced in the CBI court Monday.
Jagan was arrested after three days of questioning by the CBI about investments flowing into his companies after his father became the chief minister.
YSR, as Rajasekhara Reddy was popularly known, died in a helicopter crash on Sep 2, 2009, soon into his second term.
Jagan and 71 others were booked by CBI in August last year after Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered a CBI probe, acting on petitions filed by Congress leader P. Shankar Rao and some Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders.
Jagan, the accused number one, is the fifth one to be arrested in the case. The CBI Thursday arrested Excise Minister Mopidevi Venkataramna for his role in issuing government orders alloting lands to Vanpic company for a port project.
Industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad, one of the promoters of Vanpic, and bureaucrat K.V. Brahmananda Reddy are already in judicial custody. Their 10-day CBI custody ended Sunday.
Jagan's auditor Vijay Sai Reddy was the first accused to be arrested last year. He was recently released on bail.
Meanwhile, anticipating violent protests by Jagan's supporters, police went on high alert across the state.
Security was stepped up at the guest house, Jagan's residence, party offices of Congress and TDP and at other important places here.
Security was also tightened in the districts. Policemen were out on streets while leaders and activists of the YSR party were also arrested at some places. The state-owned road transport corporation stopped plying its buses in some districts as a precautionary measure.
YSR Congress has called for a shutdown across the state Monday to protest its leader's arrest. The party leaders appealed to people to observe the shutdown peacefully.
Jagan's mother, wife, sister Sharmila, brother-in-law Anil Kumar and other family members rushed to the guest house and met him soon after the CBI informed them about the arrest.
After coming out of the guest house, Vijayamma hit out at the Congress chief blaming her for the arrest.
She told reporters that Gandhi was targeting Jagan for going ahead with his ‘Odarpu Yatra’ following YSR's death.
‘What crime has my son committed? What do they want to do with my son,’ she asked in a voice choked with emotion.
‘Is this the reward to my late husband for giving 35 Lok Sabha seats and bringing Congress party to power at the centre,’ asked Vijayamma, who is the honorary president of YSR Congress Party, floated by Jagan last year following their resignation from Congress.
YSR's widow also voiced her doubts over the cause of helicopter crash that killed her husband.
Vijayamma, who is a member of state assembly, said people would decide the future of Jagan.
She alleged that the CBI arrested Jagan without any evidence and despite the fact that he was cooperating.
Bharathi said the arrest was carried out to satisfy Gandhi. ‘He has been arrested out of grudge. It is just because they (Congress) are going to lose the by-elections. This is sheer injustice,’ she said.
The ruling Congress, opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the left parties welcomed Jagan's arrest.
‘Such corrupt people should not be among people but they should be in jail,’ said TDP chief and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.